If I work my thighs and abs they'll get smaller...and somehow the fat around them will magically disappear.
This myth will never die so long as somebody is making money from it.
Let's take a sane look at the "spot reduction" myth. Firstly - what is spot reduction? Let's say you are starting to grow a bulge around your waist just above the belt on your jeans. You watch an info commercial one day and they are advertising a special new abdominal machine that will work your ab muscles in just the right way so that your annoying fat bulge will shrink away and disappear before your eyes. This is the spot reduction con! They are trying (and succeeding) in having you believe that you need to work the muscles in the same spot as where the fat is, then the fat in that particular area will be burned off. In other words...spot reduction.
It's important for personal trainers to keep this myth alive also.
"So...you want to lose those wobbly bits under your arms - let me show you this new arm exercise that will tighten it all up." It sounds very convincing, doesn't it? As if training the muscles in your arms are going to do something to the fat that surrounds those muscles. But I can tell you that in the 20 years I've been in this industry I've never seen spot reduction work. Why? Because once you understand how fat loss works you'll know it's impossible to lose fat in only one area of your body.
You will probably know this from your own experience.
If you have ever been on a diet and lost weight you would have noticed that your arms, thighs, and waist all get smaller at a similar rate. Sure...sometimes the chest measurement drops before the rest but hey eventually everything pretty much ends up the same percentage smaller...and you're looking good. But here is something else you may have noticed...your wrists are smaller and your watch is flopping around. Your face is leaner especially under your chin and around your neck. Now tell me...did you do any wrist exercises to lose the fat around your wrist? Did you do any neck exercises? How about face muscle exercises?
So how do you lose that bulge?
Short answer - get your nutrition right and when your body is ready for it, add in some muscle strengthening exercises to help the whole thing along (vibration training and weight training are the best). Notice I didn't tell you to go walking or jogging or do any other so-called "fat burning" exercises. Sorry - another myth (check out the Cardio myth here)
When I owned Marty's Gym I did an advertisement in the local paper. I used a "before and after" photo of a woman who had remarkable results in a 12-week fat loss challenge. She had lost all the cellulite from the backs of her legs, her figure and posture had improved out of sight, she looked great! Everyone assumed that she had been working out diligently every day at the gym to get such fantastic results. The truth was she did not do any workouts during the entire 12 weeks of the challenge! In fact, she would sit on the sofa at the gym and read a book while her husband did his workout. By following the nutrition plan only she had gotten better results than the rest of the challengers. Back then I thought to get in shape was probably 80% what you ate...but now I've been shown it's a much more than we had ever imagined. If you know what to eat and when to eat you can lose fat and tone up even without exercise.